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Larkspur voters to decide fate of rent control ordinance in upcoming primary

PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/8/24
PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/8/24 12:13

LARKSPUR – Larkspur voters will have the chance to decide if they want to nullify a newly adopted rent control ordinance when they head to the polls for the March 5 primary election.

Measure D was placed on the ballot as a referendum following a successful signature-gathering campaign by opponents of the rent control ordinance passed by the Larkspur City Council on Sept. 6, 2023.

If passed by a simple majority of voters, it would affirm the council's decision to cap annual rent increases at 5 percent plus inflation or 7 percent, whichever is lower.

The new rules wouldn't apply to rental units that came on the market after Feb. 1, 1995, accessory dwelling units or owner-occupied properties in most cases, according to information on the Marin County Elections Department website.

The ordinance, which would expire in 2029, would also create a "rental registry" to collect data on rental units in town, and would establish a procedure for landlords to petition the city for rent increases above the established cap.

Administration of the new rules would be funded by a fee to be set by the Larkspur City Council and charged to property owners.

"Rapidly increasing rents are crimping the household budgets and displacing too many fixed income seniors, too many young families and too many essential workers like teachers and first responders," according to the argument in favor of Measure D, which was signed by Larkspur city councilmembers Gabe Paulson and Kevin Carroll.

"While we build more housing in the next decade, let us support common-sense rent control measures that improve already existing California state rent control," the argument reads.

Opponents, including local landlords and former mayor Bill Howard, argue that the true cost to administer Measure D are unclear and warn that taxpayers might be on the hook for funding "a whole new bureaucracy."

"Voting No on Measure D is a vote to maintain fair housing policies in Larkspur instead of creating an uneven playing field to benefit those living in apartments built before 1995," according to the argument against.

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